Yes, nursing home residents can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of nursing home abuse.
PTSD is a disorder that may develop after a person witnesses or lives through a shocking, terrifying, or dangerous event. Even long after the event occurs, the person may continue to suffer feelings of dread, depression, anxiety, fear, or other stressful emotions. While some people do suffer from depression and anxiety, PTSD is different in the sense that it occurs as a specific reaction to a catastrophic event.
Symptoms of PTSD
While symptoms may be different for each person, some of the typical signs and symptoms of PTSD can include the following:
- Intrusive traumatic thoughts or nightmares that exist on a consistent basis.
- Emotional or physical distress or anxiety at certain triggers.
- Unexplainable agitation or outbursts of anger.
- Being easily frightened or startled.
- Refusing to go to certain places or be around certain people.
- Depression or uncontrollable anxiety.
- Emotional detachment.
- Self-destructive acts or suicide attempts.
- Refusal to consume food.
- Refusal to answer questions.
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PTSD Caused by Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Many people think of PTSD as a result of soldiers coming home from the battlefield, or someone experiencing a particularly violent event in their life. While this is certainly true, other events like assault, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect can also cause PTSD. When abuse or neglect occurs in a nursing home – emotionally or physically – residents can get PTSD.
Types of Elder Abuse and Neglect
While there are many types of elder abuse and neglect, physical and emotional abuse most typically results in PTSD. Residents experiencing PTSD are having a psychiatric and emotional response to their abuse. If you notice your elderly loved one exhibiting any strange or fearful behaviors, contact a medical professional to determine if your loved one was abused and suffers from PTSD.
Physical Elder Abuse and Neglect
Physical elder abuse occurs when a nursing home resident suffers harm from a nursing home staff member that may include hitting, shoving, pushing, slapping, physically restraining, or scratching the elderly person. Elderly victims of abuse and neglect have a 300% higher risk of death when mistreated. Oftentimes, victims suffer from PTSD as a result of their abuse and fear that it will happen again.
Emotional and Mental Elder Abuse and Neglect
Emotional elder abuse is psychological abuse and can be verbal or non-verbal. While not physical, many nursing home residents suffer from emotional and mental abuse, which can result in PTSD and feelings of constant fear and anxiety. Some types of emotional or mental elder abuse and neglect can include:
- Demeaning, yelling, or berating language towards a resident.
- Shaming, insulting, or mocking a resident.
- Ignoring a resident’s concerns or needs.
- Threatening the resident with any kind of physical or sexual abuse.
- Isolating a resident from family or social interaction as a punishment or as a form of control.
- Moving a resident’s belongings intentionally, as a punishment or form of control.
- Moving a resident’s walker, wheelchair, or cane intentionally so that they are unable to freely move about the nursing home.
Sexual Elder Abuse
Any sexual contact between a nursing home staff member and a resident can be sexual abuse. This type of physical abuse may be part of a systemic manipulative and controlling environment in a nursing home. Unfortunately, sexual abuse of the elderly may occur with those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, who cannot remember or communicate their abuse to their family members or the management of the nursing home. Many of the residents who are sexually abused develop PTSD as a result of their abuse.
Treatments for PTSD
If you discover that your elderly loved one suffered any kind of abuse in a nursing home that caused them to get PTSD from nursing home abuse, there are many treatments available. Psychotherapy can assist the elderly resident with thought patterns and help associate different emotions with painful memories. Medication, such as SSRIs, are helpful to treat PTSD. Support groups exist to help resolve emotional pain associated with PTSD. Most importantly, family support and self-care will help the elderly PTSD sufferer.
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Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer
If your elderly loved one suffered any kind of abuse in a nursing home that resulted in PTSD, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to help you determine your legal rights.